Three stories were in the news recently that are welcome good news for women. Here is a brief run down and links to more details.
Breast Feeding May Reduce Obesity Later in Life: Although it’s too late for women in my generation to breast feed their babies the latest research suggests that nursing your children, especially for longer periods of time leads to less obesity, even years later. People will go to great lengths to be thin. Maybe this information will lead to more women nursing their babies for longer, leading to yet more positive effects. See the abstract of the original study in the International Journal of Obesity.
Women Under 40 May Be Safe to Use Estrogen After Oophorectomy: For the last decade or so, since the WHI data came out showing no cardiovascular benefit and increased risk of breast cancer with HRT, young women who had their ovaries removed for problems like endometriosis have been in a dilemma. Take estrogen for respite from unrelenting hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness and feel better, or worry that they may be increasing their risk of breast cancer by taking estrogen. New data from The Jol of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggest that for women under age 40 estrogen replacement therapy may not put women at increased risk of breast cancer. For women over 40 this may not be the case.
High Dose Vitamin D May Reduce Fracture Risk in Older Women: In an NEJM pooled analysis of the data from multiple prior studies a reduction of between 30% in hip fractures and 14% in all non-vertebral fractures in women taking higher doses of vitamin D (average dose about 800 IU daily (range 782-2000 IU) This was considered high dose in the studies reviewed, although in today’s world it is only high when compared to the typical 400 IU RDA or the 400 IU often found in combination Calcium-Vitamin D tablets. Many women today take doses from 1000-8000 IU daily. When compared to the data for bisphosphonates like Fosamax and Actonel this is encouraging as so far Vitamin D seems pretty safe and could have other benefits. I’d say women at least should take supplemental vitamin D. For men the issue is less clear.
For years women have been shortchanged in many aspects of medical research. This has been in part due to difficulties in doing research on women of childbearing age, but in part because of the male-bias of some researchers and of research funding. This research gender bias seems to be less of an issue in recent years and having more data to help us make choices in caring for women and for women to use in making healthy choices is a welcome trend.
See prior posts on obesity and vitamin D: